Penn State Lehigh Valley students choose service for spring break

March 02, 2010

As college students across the country head to sandy beaches and other vacation destinations to create spring break memories this month, 22 Penn State Lehigh Valley students will spend March 8 to 12 in two Texas cities, Port Neches and Texas City, where they will work with a local aid group to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

For these students, the trip to Texas is not just a chance to give back to a community in need, it also is the centerpiece of a course designed to help teach them about the broader concepts of civic engagement and service learning. The class itself, YFE 211, Foundations of Civic and Community Engagement, is a combination online and face-to-face class that also serves as a foundation course for Penn State Lehigh Valley's new Civic Engagement minor.

"In this class, we look at what it means to be an engaged citizen in the local and global community," said Mary Hutchinson, assistant professor of ESL education at Penn State Lehigh Valley, who will accompany the students during their trip, along with Marta Pira, continuing education administrator.

"Volunteerism, such as the work these students will undertake in Texas, is just one piece of the concept. We hope the students will come away with not only an impactful service experience, but also a greater ability to analyze the underlying issues that create the need for service in the first place."

During their trip, the students will gather daily to reflect on their experiences. Some of their reflections, including pictures and videos, will be posted to a blog maintained by Hutchinson. Starting March 9, visit the blog for updates about the students' experience at online.

For more information, contact University Relations at 610-285-5067 or send an e-mail to

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 03, 2010